Receivers start sale at Burns-Anderson

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BURNS-ANDERSON, the financial services and recruitment group once chaired by Sir John Harvey-Jones, has lost its battle for survival and plunged into administrative receivership.

However, the prospects looked good yesterday for saving many of its operations. Several parts of the company have already been sold by the receivers, who moved in at the weekend.

The plug was pulled last Friday night when National Westminster, one of six principal bankers, decided against a financial restructuring proposed by the board, and the shares were suspended at 2p.

The company had unravelled after rapid expansion into the job-finding business through the loss-making Burns-Anderson Recruitment, which went into administrative receivership along with the parent company.

Ken Chalk, of Touche Ross, the administrative receivers, sold 16 of the 21 recruitment agency offices over the weekend to Premier Employment.

Touche said this saved 85 out of 100 jobs and safeguarded the future of many hundreds of temporary staff placed by the offices. Negotiations are continuing to sell the five remaining offices.

The financial services subsidiaries have not been placed in receivership and their directors have been told by Touche Ross to continue as normal.

The biggest is Burns-Anderson Independent Network, a grouping of 122 small financial intermediary firms, which together employ 375 registered individuals.

Fimbra, the regulatory body, said members of the network were still authorised to trade. The situation was being closely monitored.

If anything emerged that endangered investors, 'appropriate action will be taken but that is not the case at the moment', Fimbra said. NatWest said the network 'should not to the best of our knowledge be affected by its parent company's insolvency'.

Alan Taylor, managing director of the network, said it had been 'financially ring-fenced' from the rest of the group.

Burns-Anderson owns 75 per cent of the shares with the balance held by the financial intermediaries who belong to the network. The network is authorised to handle client money, but does not manage investments.

Sir John, formerly chairman of ICI and noted for his strident views on management in his television series, chaired Burns-Anderson until 1990.